A DEDICATED GP has bowed out after serving the Tottington area for more than 25 years.

Valued team member Dr Jillian Watts has retired from Tottington Medical Practice.

The married mum-of-two became a partner at the surgery in 1993 and has worked at the practice through huge organisational changes.

Dozens of residents left messages for the respected GP and attended drop-in sessions at the Market Street surgery as a special goodbye.

Dr Watts said: "Through all the changes there have been in the NHS and General Practice, the team at Tottington have always been excellent colleagues and supportive friends.

"I am retiring because it is the right time for myself and my family, but I will always miss the wonderful atmosphere here, and our lovely local patients whom it has been a pleasure to serve as a GP."

Dr Watts has seen huge changes in the working of surgeries, from the days of fundholding - a status which gave GPs greater control over their budgets - through to the formation of Primary Care Trusts (PCTs), and now Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) which oversee practices.

Her retirement comes just two months after an announcement that Tottington Medical Practice would be merged with six other practices in the Bury area.

The surgeries will become one practice, known as Tower Family Healthcare, made up of more than 30 GPs.

Residents and patients of the Tottington surgery turned out on Monday, November 6 and Wednesday, November 8 to say their personal goodbyes, with Dr Watts officially retiring last Friday.

The practice said in a statement: "Dr Watts has always been well liked and respected by staff and patients alike and her departure will leave a big void in our practice.

"While she is sad to leave, she is also looking forward to her retirements where she intends to be travelling and spending more time with her family."